Michael is a partner based in our London office and is part of our marine team.  A specialist in the marine and shipping sector, Michael principally represents owners, charterers, freight forwarders and cargo insurers in a variety of shipping and transport related matters. Michael’s practice is split between dry shipping and marine insurance matters. 

Michael’s work on dry shipping matters is primarily related to disputes arising under contracts of carriage, in particular in charterparty and bill of lading disputes involving a variety of both standard and bespoke contracts.  Michael has also assisted clients in non-contentious matters, from advising on and drafting bespoke clauses to assisting with the drafting and negotiation of entire contracts of carriage.

Michael also has experience in the sale and purchase of vessels, both in relation to agreeing the terms of sale and purchase, and in respect of contentious disputes arising from vessel sale / purchase which have taken place.

Michael has a wide marine insurance practice, principally acting on behalf of cargo insurers in coverage and recovery claims, and general average disputes.  His experience with contracts of carriage is a useful complement to the insurance disputes that he handles. Michael has handled a variety of marine insurance disputes, including a number of cargo contamination claims and piracy related matters. He has also assisted insurance clients in non-contentious matters advising on the interpretation of standard and bespoke clauses, and in the drafting of clauses for insurance contracts.

Michael’s broad practice means that he has had the opportunity to become involved in a number of major incidents which have significantly impacted the marine and insurance industry , including a number of piracy related matters in the Gulf of Arden and off the coast of Nigeria and Benin and assisting vessel owners and numerous insurers following the collapses of OW Bunker in 2014 and Hanjin Shipping in 2016.  He closely follows the consequences of international sanctions on the shipping and transport industry and has advised clients  on a regular basis on this.  Michael has worked with clients  on the impact of cyber related requirements entering the marine industry and is also closely following the development of autonomous shipping.

Michael has represented clients in these matters pursuant to various different types of arbitrations (with particular experience in LMAA, ICC and LCIA arbitrations) and in the High Court and Court of Appeal.  He has particular experience working with the German and Asian markets, with particular focus in Japan, China and Singapore. Michael spent part of his career working in our Singapore office and has a Masters in International Maritime Law and a Masters in Advanced Legal Drafting from Swansea University.

Michael co-authored the marine chapter of Kennedys’ Claims Handling Law and Practice Guide, the fourth edition of which was published in February 2021.

Michael Biltoo is a tireless worker and can handle any claim that you throw at him.

Qualifications and admissions

  • Qualified as a Solicitor in England and Wales in 2008

Market recognition

  • Next Generation Partner and recommended lawyer for 'Shipping (London)'
    The Legal 500 UK 2024
  • Next Generation Partner and recommended lawyer for 'Shipping (London)'
    The Legal 500 UK 2023
  • Next Generation Partner and recommended lawyer for 'Shipping (London)'
    The Legal 500 UK 2022
  • Up and coming Lawyer for 'Shipping (UK-wide)'
    "Michael Biltoo has particular expertise in dry shipping matters and frequently acts in charter party disputes and other contentious matters."
    Chambers UK 2021
  • Next Generation Partner and recommended lawyer for 'Transport: Shipping (London)'
    “Michael Biltoo is a tireless worker and can handle any claim that you throw at him.”
    The Legal 500 UK 2021
  • Up and coming Lawyer for 'Shipping (UK-wide)'
    Clients remark that "he is a superb lawyer with the ability to break down a case and concentrate on the relevant issues."
    Chambers UK 2020
  • Next Generation Lawyer and Recommended Lawyer for 'Shipping (London)'
    "Michael Biltoo is 'never afraid to dive in and take the bull by the horns when working on difficult cases."
    The Legal 500 UK 2019/20

Work highlights

Successfully acted on behalf of buyers of gas oil in a sale of goods case to strike out a demurrage claim made against them on the grounds that it was time barred, in circumstances where the demurrage provisions were incorporated from a charterparty – Glencore Energy (UK) Ltd v Sonol Israel Ltd (The “Team Anmaj”) [2011].

Advised in relation to the loss of The Ocean Victory at Kashima port, Japan and safe port warranties in charterparties, and whether demise charterers could be liable to shipowners for breach of a safe port warranty – The Ocean Victory [2015].

Acted for cargo insurers in a dispute with vessel owners following the hijack of the vessel by pirates in Somalia, which was at the time one of the highest known ransoms paid to Somalian pirates. Advised clients in respect of the piracy event and the ensuing general average dispute and negotiating settlement.

Advised cargo insurers in relation to the collapse of Hanjin Shipping, the biggest shipping collapse in modern times, and the consequent effect on cargo policies and cargo recoveries. 

Successfully acted on behalf of defendant owners, opposing an application to set aside a successful arbitration award on grounds of serious irregularity, following a finding by the arbitrator of a breach by the claimant charterers of an unsafe berth warranty in a charterparty – A v B [2017].